Best Friends, Part II
I didn’t tell you this already? What she did?
Oh, you’ll like this story.
This happened while they were living across the street, and Angela was in my daycare. By then I had started doing foster care as well, and our first foster child was a boy named Daniel. He’d been with us over a year. He was already at the point where DCF was looking to move him out of foster care and place him in an adoptive home. He was going to be staying with us only a little while longer.
We also had a baby, this beautiful boy. He was only a few months old, and we’d been fostering him for a very short time. Maybe a few weeks. But I was already in love with him. I mean, he was just so adorable, so precious.
Then DCF shows up one day and says they’ve received a report that I’m mistreating Daniel. Not physically abusing him or anything that serious, but using “excessive timeouts.” They say their going to suspend my license while they conduct an investigation.
And they took away Daniel and the baby.
My heart was broken.
I just lost it. Sobbing. I was an absolute wreck.
I mean, they took the baby right out of my arms.
You know, when you do daycare and foster care, it’s gonna happen. Anyone with a phone — or the internet — can report someone for child abuse.
And you can do it anonymously.
Good or bad, that’s just how it works.
Who doesn’t want to be protective of children, right?
But the thing is, even when the report is determined to be false — or unsubstantiated, or unfounded, whatever they call it — the person who made the false report is not held responsible.
Your kids are taken away. Your license is taken away. You’re made sick to death with worry. And no one is held responsible.
I don’t remember how long the investigation lasted. It felt like forever. I had to drive to Hartford to defend myself to the higher-ups.
And the poor kids — the investigation is no good for them, either. They just get bumped around again, to another new living arrangement. More upheaval in their lives, which is the last thing they need.
Before he came to us, Daniel had already been taken from his birth mother. Then his grandparents had him for a long while, but even they decided in the end they just couldn’t handle him.
By the time DCF took him from us, Daniel was calling me “Mommy,” calling Russell “Daddy.” But they went and stuck him in a new foster home — where he just created havoc. Pooping his pants. Sleepwalking. Temper tantrums. Physically fighting with his new foster mom. All stuff that he never did with us.
So those people gave up on him, too, and he was sent to adoptive home. It was just awful.
The DCF investigation found nothing wrong, obviously. So they determined that the report against me was without basis. And they gave me back my foster-care license.
But they wouldn’t tell me who made the report.
I knew it was someone who used daycare because DCF told me as much. The person who made the report said their child was “scared” to go to my daycare because Daniel was being mistreated.
Yet the person who made the report hadn’t taken their own kid out of my daycare? Just kept the kid enrolled — even though I was supposedly abusing Daniel. It made no sense!
I was racking my brains, trying to figure out who it was. And eventually I asked Julie if it was her. Not because I thought it was her, but I just couldn’t imagine who it could be. And of course she said no, absolutely not.
It was Russell who figured it out. On the investigation sheet DCF sent me, they had blackened out wherever the reporter’s name appeared. But it turns out they didn’t send me a copy of the report — they sent me the original. So Russell figures this out, that it’s actually black magic marker on the report, and he just holds it up to a lightbulb. Presto — there’s Julie’s name.
It’s just unbelievable. I mean, what kind of person does this to a friend?
She knew how upset I was. She actually consoled me throughout the whole thing — while I was being investigated. She sat there comforting me, being the “good friend,” and all the while she’s the one who made the report.
Russell was so disturbed that he didn’t even tell me at first. I guess he couldn’t bring himself to tell me what my “best friend” had done.
It wasn’t until after we’d moved out the Valley, to Silver Lake Shores, that he told me. Which is when I confronted Julie again. I told her point blank, I know you’re the one reported me. I wanted her to explain why.
But of course she denied it again. Went so far as to tell me how hurt she was by the accusation. Asked me how I could think such a thing, et cetera, the whole charade.
So I told her, listen, I have the paperwork. They sent me the original. Your name is right there in black and white.
Then she changed her tune. Immediately. Said she did it to help me. She was hoping it would give me a break from Daniel, because he could be difficult. She’d already been inviting him over to play at her house for the same reason — to give me a break. So according to her, reporting me was just another way for her to“help.”
That’s when I stopped talking to her.
For a few months anyway.
Yeah, I know.
Russell couldn’t believe when I started talking to her again.
But see, Julie and I also had to work together. All this happened during the same time she had volunteered to be co-president with me, for the PTO.
If I’m remembering correctly, that’s pretty much what forced me to start talking to her again–we had to work together.
And eventually I just forgave her.
I can’t hold a grudge for long. I’m really bad about it! I don’t know why. I’m just not that kind of person.
But also, it’s not like I had tons of close friends.
Julie and I had known each other for a decade by then. I’d gotten used to having her in my life.
You know, in between the time she made the false report and I found out about it, there was another incident with DCF.
One of our other neighbors had heard Russell yelling about something — who knows what — and the neighbor called DCF.
Again the social workers came out, did an investigation, screwed up our lives. Again they found nothing wrong, let me keep my license.
It was obvious from the report that the person was another neighbor, someone within earshot of Russell yelling. I told Julie about it, because at the time I still had no idea that she filed the last report. And get this — she took it upon herself to call up the neighbor and absolutely ream her for reporting me.
When I look back at that, I’m just like — What? She lied to me for how long? But someone else reports me and Julie jumps all over them.
It was just to make herself look good, obviously. Everything with her is for show.
She even wrote a long letter to DCF in my defense, telling them how wonderful I was. Yeah. It was four hand-written pages. I still have it. She calls me “wonderful” over and over. Can’t stop singing my praises.
And this was just months after she filed a false report against me.
The way her mind works — it’s just beyond me.
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing this letter in support of Megan Barney. In this letter I am writing both as a parent of a former daycare student and also as a neighbor. . . .
Let me begin by sharing my 8 year old’s story. My son was 14 months old when he began attending Megan’s daycare. He was in her care until 4 1/2 years old. At the age of 2 – 2/12 years old it became more and more apparent Carson had speech and language delays. Megan talked to me about the details of his difficulties and was very helpful with concrete suggestions to work with Carson. We made some headway but Carson began to show behavioral problems along with difficulties with attention span and controlling his impulses. This was a very hard time for my son and myself as I struggled with ways to help him. Megan and her knowledge of child development was invaluable. She was supportive of my son and was always consistent with him. He was able to sit for a story at daycare a full year before I was able to get through even a simple book. She was patient with Carson and always redirecting him. She helped my son remain loving warm and sure of himself. I firmly believe he could have become even more difficult without constant loving reinforcement of the positives. At three years old he started Pre-K. This did not work. The common consensus was it was overwhelming and he needed a smaller group setting. He went through intensive testing at the recommendation of the school. They confirmed the characteristics of a ADD. They also gave my son the diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder. The evaluators also had concern about my son’s lack of safety awareness. They knew he needed close supervision and again said his care was excellent at home and in the daycare. They stated they were impressed with the deep level of understanding his daycare provider had shown in his circumstances. They felt Carson coming as far as he had was directly related to the care and guidance shown to him in his daycare. He had overcome some obstacles and was willing to work on others. This only came about after many times spent talking over and then implementing ideas to help him. He was always given warm encouraging guidance by Megan. The dedication she showed went far beyond a “normal” daycare situation. Megan used her expertise and her years of knowledge to help my son. I cannot stress how much of a positive impact she had on my son.
I know this is lengthy but I feel very strongly that you need to hear about her MANY wonderful qualities. Carson is 8 1/2 years old with a love of learning. I have no question he owes this to Megan.
I also have 2 younger children. A 3 1/2 year old and a 26 month old. We live across from Megan now and do many activities with the daycare. . . .
Megan is wonderful with the children. She is always interacting with them. Her encouragement as they learn new skills is just wonderful to experience and witness. She is consistent with her expectations of the children. They are always appropriate to the age, and children blossom under her care.
Megan is a truly wonderful example of what home daycare should be. The children thrive in a small group and really bond to each other and Megan. I really admire Megan and her vocation. Her dedication cannot be bettered.
In the closing of this letter I want to STRONGLY urge you to let Megan continue on. She is an excellent provider and the children in her care would really be the losers if she had to stop for any length of time.
MORE EXCERPTS COMING SOON. READ MORE ABOUT THE CASE AT JEREMYBARNEY.COM